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HTC Hero – 14 days in September 1, 2009

Posted by mbdavenport in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,

Since signing up to Vodafone with a Nokia E51 back in March 2008 I had not been making any special effort to stay abreast of mobile phone development. As my contract came up for renewal so came the need to pick a new handset.

I didn’t really want an iPhone. Sure, the 3G S and accompanying release of iPhone OS 3.0 addressed a lot of the short-comings that put me off, but all the MMS in the world wouldn’t stop me from feeling like an insecure sheep every time I pulled it out. Charlie Brooker made a good summation of my feelings here.

That said, the iPhone form-factor did appeal to me. A convenient fact given that everyone is now out to ape the design. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few companies out there trying to do things differently. I was also keen to try Android on for size. Something, I suspect, that comes down to that stereotypical British desire to see the underdog win out, though how anything with the backing of Google could be considered to be an underdog I will never know. Unfortunately, for everything that had been said about the new incumbent in the mobile OS arena its still looking a bit uggers.

To the rescue comes HTC with the Hero. It had an iPhone form-factor without looking like an iPhone (think what you like I heart that chin) and an Android OS without looking like piggy sick.

So I bought one.  Here are my thoughts following a fortnight of abusage, in bullet-points should you wish to skim-read or plagarise my thoughts for a daily newspaper’s tech section (please Guardian, PLEASE).

  • Battery life is average/very poor. Average by any other touchscreen device with Wi-Fi and 3G, very poor by the standard of any other feature phone. If I wake up in the morning with a full charge my battery will be flat by around 8 p.m. That said, I have friends who have similar problems with their iPhones. At least I have the option of carrying a spare battery that I can swap out.
  • Fit and finish of the phone has remained beautiful and the oleophobic screen coating does a good job of reducing finger prints.
  • The phone can sometimes lag badly. Sense UI is a beautiful implemenation of Android but sometimes it feel that the Hero is slightly underpowered for it. It’s not earth-ruining but it can be pretty annoying. An iPhone user will likely find the OS janky and “influid”, as a colleague of mine coined. In regular use it isn’t a problem though I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t waiting for a Hero replacement running Tegra.
  • Android Market needs a refresh – a competitor to the App Store it is not.
  • Keyboard is very good at the text prediction. This is just as well because typing accurately is very difficult. Calibrating the keyboard helps this but not by enough.
  • Integrating Facebook with your phone contacts is a stroke of genius. It saves having to assign photos to all of your contacts manually as it pulls them all from their Facebook accounts.
  • The trackball seems to be broken. For some reason every now and again my trackball believes that it’s rolling when in fact it is not. This can make reading websites very painful as the page begins hurriedly scrolling in any direction apart from that in which I want to read. Not sure if this is a hardware or software fault but I can’t replicate it. If it keeps it up though I will be contacting HTC. Hopefully the rumoured Hero firmware update will patch this.

All in all, I’m happy and look forward to the aforementioned firmware update from HTC that is said to address some of the performance issues that reviewers have found niggling. Further updates to come.



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